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LSU Postgame Numbers & Thoughts


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The LSU Tigers might end up with 5-6 losses before the season is out but tonight's performance should not be discounted. There was a lot more talent on this LSU squad than the 1999 version Auburn defeated by the same score, 41-7. Auburn's 34-point victory tonight was the largest margin of victory over a ranked SEC opponent at home since 1950. Auburn defeated a ranked Florida team at home in 1969, by a score of 38-12. I felt that Auburn would get LSU's best shot tonight, with their backs against the wall, after losing to Mississippi State the week before. Auburn quickly jumped on the visiting Tigers 24-7 after each team had 4 possessions. Auburn out-gained LSU 257-yards to 96-yards after each team held the ball 4 times.

Auburn made some major strides in terms of team-improvement, which should set the stage for an epic showdown in Starkville. Other than the 4 big plays allowed, the Auburn defense turned in a near flawless performance. Take away the 4 big plays and LSU netted 119-yards on their remaining 56 snaps or 2.1 yards per play. The coaching staff had a terrific game-plan on both sides of the football and the players did an exceptional job of carrying it out. The goal is to have at least 8 impact players during a game and Auburn's offense had 11 by halftime. It was the most dominating first-half performance against a Les Miles LSU team.

Auburn will need this explosive play ability next week against a very physical Mississippi State defense. My only concern about this game was the playing of Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne with a 27-point lead and only 9 minutes left in the game. The risk clearly out-weighed anything that could have been gained and it was a lost opportunity to give Peyton Barber, Racean Thomas and Jeremy Johnson much needed game-experience. Moving forward, this game was a terrific building block for a team that is beginning to find and secure its identity.

Inside the Numbers...

  • After averaging 8.7 yards per play on first down during the first-half, LSU was held to 4.6 yards per play during the second-half. Take away a late 40-yard pass on first-down during the second-half and LSU gained a total of 6-yards on 9 first-down snaps.
  • Sammie Coates failed to register a single impact-play on offense entering the LSU game and he finally arrived with 4 against LSU.
  • Cameron Artis-Payne's 118.8 yards gained rushing per game during the first 5 games of the season is the 4th best start to a season (5-games) by an Auburn running back.
  • Auburn's defense has allowed only 5 conversions from their last 31 third-downs defended (16.1%).
  • Auburn has now fielded (47) 100-yard rushers during 59 games under Gus Malzahn.
  • Impact plays were a huge factor against LSU. Only 40.5% of Auburn's snaps netted 5-yards or better, the second lowest percentage this season. On the defensive side, only 28.3% of their plays netted at least 5-yards, the best consistency performance this season.
  • Auburn's trend of playing better defense as the game wears on continued against LSU. The Bengal-Tigers averaged 4.7 yards per play during the first-half and only 3.9 yards during the second-half.
  • Take away the 2 big plays allowed during the second-half and LSU gained 33 total yards on their remaining 26 snaps or 1.3 yards per play.
  • Through 5 games, 50% of the snaps defended during the first-half have gone for 2-yards less. It increases to 57% during the second-half.
  • First-down offense continues to be an issue for the Auburn offense. For the season, 48.5% of their snaps on first-down have gone for 3-yards or less. Against, LSU, 60% went for 3-yards or less. This must improve moving forward.
  • Through 5 games, I have predicted Auburn to have an average score of 40-20 and their actual average has worked out to 42-14. This is one area, I don't mind being wrong for now.
  • 391 of Auburn's 566 total-yards came of the Tigers 16 impact plays.
  • Of Auburn's 16 impact-plays on offense, Nick Marshall was directly involved in 11 of them.
  • All 13 of Auburn's offensive possessions began on their side of the field. This was the first time this season the Tigers failed to have at least 1 short-field possession during a game.
  • During the first 3 games, Nick Marshall completed only 30.4% of his passes beyond 10-yards of the line of scrimmage. During the past 2 games, it has improved to 50.0%.
  • Nick Marshall was most effective passing the ball on 2nd down against LSU. He was 6 of 10 for 129-yards and 2 TD's. He was 5 of 5 on first-down but for a total of only 12-yards.
  • Auburn completed passes to 9 different players vs. LSU.
  • Nick Marshall completed only 43% of his first-down passes during the first 3 games. He's 9 of 9 during the last 2 games.
  • Through 5 games, Auburn has scored on 25 of 35 possessions the Tigers registered at least 2 first-downs during the possession.
  • LSU averaged 5.33 yards per rush during the first-half and only 1.73 yards during the second-half.
  • Auburn's front-7 has accounted for 54.7% of the team's tackles on the season. Against LSU it was 64.3%, a season high thus far.
  • Auburn has run the ball 60.3% of the time during the first-half and 72.8% during the second-half.

Final Word:

For those waiting for Nick Marshall to become a precision passer, you are likely in for a long wait. If you are expecting for Marshall to be a play-maker, he has consistently delivered during his Auburn career. He simply possesses that "it" factor, rising to the occasion when it has been most needed. Last season through 5 games, Nick Marshall delivered 27 impact plays from 176 offensive touches or 1 every 6.5 plays. This season Marshall has 30 on 153 plays or 1 every 5.1 snaps. He has improved dramatically in converting 3rd downs, passing the ball compared to last season. Jeremy Johnson will have his role in the offense this season and is a tremendous luxury as Auburn's backup quarterback. In terms of being the leader of the offense, Nick Marshall has it locked down.

The LSU game was a great indicator the Auburn offense made a major step moving forward but first-down production needs to improve. As long as Auburn can generate impact and explosive plays, it will offset the lack of production on first down but struggling on first-down has a tendency of catching up with any offense. Until Auburn becomes consistent on offense, it is great to know the defense has delivered every week this season. The defense has managed to play well despite the massive substitutions that have been this season. Auburn has built tremendous depth at all three levels of the defense, which payoff as the season progresses.

The Mississippi State game now becomes the biggest showdown in the history of the series. Dan Mullen has been a massive thorn in the side of the Auburn Tigers since his arrival at Mississippi State and this is clearly his best team to date. Auburn will have to play a complete game in all three phases of the game to come away from Starkville with a victory. You can rest assure the Bulldogs will give Auburn their best shot and the Tigers cannot afford to give anything less in return.

War Eagle!

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Thanks Stat, great work and so soon after the game.

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Good analysis stat.....the individuals numbers don't tell it all...the 5-0 is what counts..... but like last season, the offense seems to be growing and overall, the team appears to be getting better every game which is essential.

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Alright, Stat or anyone- is our defense really that improved (nearly a shut down defense) or has our opponent's offenses struggled this year? I can't yet decide, through 5 games, which is true.

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Alright, Stat or anyone- is our defense really that improved (nearly a shut down defense) or has our opponent's offenses struggled this year? I can't yet decide, through 5 games, which is true.

No doubt the defense is better than last year but would not consider them as dominant or "shut down" material just yet.

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Stat, thanks again for your work. There were some things about last night's game that still have me perplexed and I hope you can enlighten me on them.

In the 1st half especially, as you mentioned, Auburn consistently gained 2-3 yards on 1st down by sending CAP up the middle...yet consistently converted 3rd and long situations. On the other hand LSU consistently gained 7-8 yards on frist down and failed to convert on ensuing 3rd and 5-5. I'm no football expert, but this sounds completely counter to logic to me. If all I had seen were 1st down plays for the 1st half I'd have been certain that LSU was dominating the game.

Was Auburn's D just not that good on 1st down plays? Was there some fall off in LSU's O between 1st and 2nd down? Since running CAP up the middle was so unproductive on 1st down why did Auburn keep doing it?

How likely do you think it is that Auburn's 1st down production is going to improve enough to bring this team up to where we al want them to be?

Again, thanks for all you do.

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Does anyone really have a "shut-down" defense these days?

Seems to me that keeping a good team to 14 or less about qualifies as a shutdown. I keep up with NCAA football pretty well and I don't think I've seen any team that can't be scored upon by a reasonably good offense. Most teams with top defensive records have built their stats on lower level team I bet.

So, taking into account the quality of opposition thus far, which team would be considered the best defenses at this point?

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Yea you know State wants to beat us bad because of CAM. This would be their "payback/karma" game. But I know the coaches will have this team ready. States pass D is not good. Surley Auburn can pass the ball to Coats, Williams, Bray, and Melvin. They just need to contain Dak, not an easy task. But I think we can outscore them.

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